Twitter launches vox populi index for US presidential race

Measuring the twittering classes


Twitter has launched a new website that will announce daily measurements of how Twitter users feel about US presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, calling it "a new barometer for the election."

The Twitter Political Index, which kicked off on Wednesday, scours the micro-blogging firm's databases for any posts mentioning either candidate and evaluates their contents using proprietary "social sentiment analysis" software from social analytics outfit Topsy.

The result is a "positivity score" for each post from 1 to 100, where the higher the score, the more positive the post is. The software then computes the average positivity score for each candidate.

The final score is shown relative to the average positivity level of all Twitter posts, so a score of 60 means posts about that candidate are on average 60 per cent more positive than the background chatter.

The scores will be updated each day at 8pm EST, along with a graph showing historical data.

Adam Sharp, Twitter's head of government, news and social innovation, says the "Twindex" is meant to supplement, rather than replace, traditional polling methods.

"Just as new technologies like radar and satellite joined the thermometer and barometer to give forecasters a more complete picture of the weather, so too can the Index join traditional methods like surveys and focus groups to tell a fuller story of political forecasts," Sharp wrote in a blog post announcing the index.

Traditional or not, as your Reg hack writes these words, both candidates have pretty dismal showings. Barack Obama scores 34, down 4 since yesterday, and although Mitt Romney has crept up 2 points, his total score is a mere 25.

As such, it may be premature for the candidates' campaigns to start quoting the figures just yet. ®

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Experts: AI should be recognized as inventors in patent law
    Plus: Police release deepfake of murdered teen in cold case, and more

    In-brief Governments around the world should pass intellectual property laws that grant rights to AI systems, two academics at the University of New South Wales in Australia argued.

    Alexandra George, and Toby Walsh, professors of law and AI, respectively, believe failing to recognize machines as inventors could have long-lasting impacts on economies and societies. 

    "If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge," they wrote in a comment article published in Nature. "Funders and businesses would be less incentivized to pursue useful research using AI inventors when a return on their investment could be limited. Society could miss out on the development of worthwhile and life-saving inventions."

    Continue reading
  • Declassified and released: More secret files on US govt's emergency doomsday powers
    Nuke incoming? Quick break out the plans for rationing, censorship, property seizures, and more

    More papers describing the orders and messages the US President can issue in the event of apocalyptic crises, such as a devastating nuclear attack, have been declassified and released for all to see.

    These government files are part of a larger collection of records that discuss the nature, reach, and use of secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents: these are executive orders, announcements, and statements to Congress that are all ready to sign and send out as soon as a doomsday scenario occurs. PEADs are supposed to give America's commander-in-chief immediate extraordinary powers to overcome extraordinary events.

    PEADs have never been declassified or revealed before. They remain hush-hush, and their exact details are not publicly known.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022